Soldiering in the 20th & 21st Centuries

Bofors Gun

In the first half of the twentieth century,1914 - 23, the Irish people endured ten years of intense military activity, including participation in a world War, an urban insurrection, a guerrilla War and finally a bitter Civil War. Ireland changed from a country that was a source of foot soldiers for the British Army to an Independent nation with its own armed forces.

The result was a new nation bearing both the hopes of many of its citizens, and the pain left by the wars that had brought it into being. The experience of individual Irish men, women and children during these years are described in galleries 5-8 in Soldiers & Chiefs.

Explore these galleries

World War I

Learn about the 150,000 Irishmen who volunteered to fight in the British Army during World War I.

The Easter Rising

The 1916 Easter Rising is one of the most famous and tragic periods in Irish history.

The Irish War of Independence

The struggle for Ireland's independence was fought by guerilla warfare and was lead by some of Ireland's greatest heroes.

Civil War

During the Civil War, both the Free State and the anti-Treaty IRA took actions they believed to be justified, but which the other side considered to be inexcusable.

The Emergency

President de Valera chose to take a neutral stance on WWII and focus inward on Ireland's needs.

World War II

While Ireland remains neutral,many Irishmen and women enlist in the British Army to fight in a war they believed in.

UN 50

After Ireland joined the United Nations, the forces found a new role: providing troops and equipment for UN missions to separate warring parties in trouble spots such as Congo and Lebanon.

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